Vatican’s Cardinal Becciu on trial in $412m fraud case

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A Roman Catholic cardinal who was once a close ally of Pope Francis is going on trial in the Vatican, accused of misusing Church funds in a ruinous London property venture.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, 73, is the most senior cleric in modern times to face trial for alleged financial crimes.

He is charged with spending €350m (£299m; $412m) of church money on a botched deal to buy a property in Chelsea that incurred huge losses.

He denies wrongdoing.

Nine other defendants are also accused of charges including extortion, embezzlement and abuse of office.

Cardinal Becciu was sacked by the Pope in September, as reports of financial misdeeds emerged.

A two-year investigation exposed how the Vatican lost millions of euros, including donations from worshippers, after buying a prestigious former Harrods warehouse in Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, in 2014. The cardinal was formerly in charge of donations at the secretariat which handles Vatican funds.

The charges against him include allegedly channelling money to businesses run by his brothers in their native Sardinia.

Agencies
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